Thousands of trucks block French roads in ecotax demo

Truck drivers block a part of the A10 highway near Marcheprime, western France, to protest against an environmental tax on Novem
Truck drivers block a part of the A10 highway near Marcheprime, western France, to protest against an environmental tax on November 16, 2013.

Thousands of trucks blocked motorways across France on Saturday in protest at the government's controversial plans for an tax on heavy vehicles, causing hours of delays.

Police estimated 2,000 trucks while organisers said 4,000 lined motorways, driving slowly and clogging up traffic into various French cities including Paris, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon and Lille.

The road transport federation OTRE organised the protest and instructed to leave one lane free for cars, but to block "foreign trucks".

"We do not want our competitors to carry on driving while we have stopped," OTRE leader Aline Mesples told AFP.

No violence was reported, and OTRE asked demonstrators not to attack radars, which have been targeted in recent protests.

The radars were set up along roads to screen passing vehicles and determine whether they need to pay the tax, which would apply to French and foreign vehicles carrying goods weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.

Protests over the "ecotax" on , which aims to encourage environmentally friendly commercial transport, kicked off in earnest last month in the northwestern region of Brittany and eventually forced the government to backtrack and suspend the levy.

Despite the government's climbdown, protesters have continue to demonstrate for the complete scrapping of the , mostly in Brittany but also in other parts of the country.


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© 2013 AFP

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Nov 17, 2013
The radars were set up along roads to screen passing vehicles and determine whether they need to pay the tax, which would apply to French and foreign vehicles carrying goods weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.


Like I said before, this is completely stupid. Larger trucks are more efficient, therefore they should pay no tax.

If you feel you need to tax fuel consumption, just tax fuel directly, and you tax everyone proportional to what they use. By extension, this hits trucking companies, yes, but it actually taxes the population at large who uses the fuel as well for small vehicles. Since small vehicles are less efficient, it would hit those more. This would encourage more people in suburbs and outskirts of cities to take the bus into the city, and perhaps encourage more people to car pool where possible.

What are you going to get out of this tax that a 5 cent per gallon fuel tax can't do?

Nothing. A headache and more overhead and commissioners to regulate it all.

Nov 17, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 17, 2013
@Lurker.
If you tax only the fuel, trucks can fill up before they enter Brittany and avoid any payment. Where I live thru-trucks are major polluters and the local government has no control over their diesel exhaust.

Nov 18, 2013
This would encourage more people in suburbs and outskirts of cities to take the bus into the city, and perhaps encourage more people to car pool where possible.


While that is a good idea on paper, you haven't taken into account one thing:

The bus company is not in the business to transport as many people as possible, but to maximize the number of people and the price of the ticket at the same time to give them the best possible profit. That means they exist in equilibrium with all the private vehicles, where increasing or decreasing prices lowers their profits, and if they suddenly find themselves having more customers because private vehicles become more expensive, then they simply increase prices to return to the balance again.

So, the effect of the tax is not to decrease fuel consumption and increase public transportation, but simply make transportation more expensive for all, and more profitable to some private companies. It punishes the poor and rewards the rich.


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